Accessory Dwelling Units

​​​Changes in Accessory Dwelling Unit Regulations

In October of 2019, Governor Newsom signed into law a suite of bills encouraging development of Accessory Dwelling Units (also known as ADUs, granny units, or secondary units). These bills addressed many aspects of ADU development and permitting, with the goal of encouraging creation of more living units to address California's housing crisis.

The changes to State law took effect January 1st, 2020 and limit the ability of local jurisdictions to regulate ADUs. Updates to the Sacramento County Zoning Code (SZC) could not be adopted prior to the effective date, resulting in portions of the SZC as written being out of compliance with State law. To remedy this situation, Sacramento County must utilize applicable State Government Code (GOV) sections where conflicts arise between the two codes.

A document, entitled “Interim Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Standards" and available at the link below, has been created to provide guidance for County​ staff and applicants in this interim period. It incorporates the GOV code requirements and allowances into the current SZC, as understood by County staff at this time. This document should be used in conjunction with the SZC as applicable until the SZC has been formally amended.

A Zoning Ordinance Amendment package will be brought through the required public review process over the next few months, with a goal of adoption by Summer 2020.

​​What is an ADU?

  • An ADU is allowed in all Agricultural, Agricultural-Residential, and Residential zones in the unincorporated County, provided that the ADU is developed in compliance with Zoning Code development standards.

  • Generally, an ADU is an accessory structure that is developed for sleeping (or habitation) purposes. The ADU can include a full or partial kitchen, and full or partial bathroom. Partial kitchen or bathroom facilities are only allowed if the unit has access to full facilities on the property, for example in the primary dwelling. The ADU must have water and sanitation service.

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